It’s called the Jurassic Coast because it’s been a hotbed for fossil finding, and I was lucky enough to find a few fossils along the way! At least I think they were fossils. So for our grand finale, here are the shots from the most breathtaking hike of my life. The colors were so vibrant. The hills were so steep. The chase was so real.
We had a series of busses to catch, and if we missed that first bus, we missed our nonrefundable flight home. Thankfully my memory card was already full. I had been frantically deleting pictures to free up a little space for snapshots of the hike, so my capacity was really limited. Otherwise, I’m sure there would have been hundreds of pictures and we would have missed our bus for sure.
Not long after Lulworth Cove, E started fussing and I said we might need to stop and let her out for a while. M said we’ll break at the top of the hill, so I fed her a few morsels of bread to tie her over. By the time we got to the top of the hill she was asleep. So we moved right along! We skipped the picnic lunch that we packed and just kept going. Hill after hill.
It was much steeper than we were expecting. Just up and down rolling hills over sharp white cliffs. Stop for a photo op at the Durdle Door. More up and down. Stop and say hi to the sheep. Every once in a while I would stop and call out, “Don’t forget to look behind you!” because it was just as beautiful in front as it was behind.
We were really racing at the end to get to the bus stop, and we made it with 15 minutes to spare! So we had a sandwich and headed back to town, and then took the train to London.
But fate wouldn’t let us make it to the airport quite so smoothly. We waited on the corner for the EasyBus to take us to Gatwick, and when it pulled up the driver said we couldn’t take a baby without a car seat. We argued and argued, saying we’ve looked up the law and it’s not required on a bus in England. We said we’ve been on half a dozen busses with her and no one batted an eye. We said we even took her the EasyBus two weeks ago and no one cared. But he wouldn’t have it. No bus ride. No refund.
We turned around and bought some train tickets. The train is much more expensive, but it’s also faster, so we took advantage of the situation and lingered in London for a few more minutes. We had a bite to eat at the base of London Eye, snapped a couple more pictures, and finally breathed a sigh of relief when we made it to our hotel. Yeah, seriously, we slept in a hotel one night. Of course we made sure it was one with a full English breakfast before our early morning flight back to Calgary, where Stampede was in full swing.
Our Sunday began with a brisk walk to church. The bus would have been a reasonable option, as it was a few miles to hike, but we seem to do things the hard way. As we expected, we got a lot of attention, being the visitors in a small branch. In fact, someone mentioned us in his testimony. He had seen us walking up the hill and holding hands, and it made an impression on him as being kind to each other, but then he was surprised to see us show up in his own congregation.
We had decided Sunday would be a good day to hike the white cliffs. This was the primary reason for our trip to Weymouth. However, the hike is a short drive out of town, and on Saturday night, we realized the bus we needed doesn’t run on Sundays anymore. We weren’t sure if it would be possible to do the hike on Monday, but it seemed unlikely because we had to be back in town by early afternoon to catch our train to London, so we could catch our plane home.
To make a long story short, we found a way to make it work Monday morning, but it was definitely cutting it close. With a little free time Sunday evening, we decided to walk to the cliffs from town. So we just started walking to see how far we could get.
It was my absolute favorite weather. Heavy overcast skies, with a couple of pockets of sunshine that make the green earth look so vibrant against the gray sky. The rain only threatened a couple times, but the storm cast a full double rainbow. I couldn’t back up enough to capture the whole thing with my camera, but M caught a panorama here with his phone if you want to see it.
Our last few days in England were spent on the Southwest coast, in the seaside town of Weymouth. We kept missing out on good deals when we were trying to book a B&Bs, so finally we found some lodging with a small family through Couchsurfing, again capitalizing on having access to a kitchen in child-friendly housing. We weren’t able to check into the house until the evening, and Weymouth doesn’t have any place to check luggage. Thankfully we packed light, but it was still a heavy load to drag around the town. We found a comfortable spot on the beach, E took a nap, M took a swim–a short swim. The water was quite cold. We had fish and chips with mushy peas. Then, once we dropped off our luggage, we headed back out to get some groceries before the Sabbath, and to chase seagulls on the beach.
After retrieving our luggage from Victoria Station, we headed East to Basingstoke, an old English town east of London where one of M’s legendary mission companions live. Legendary because he is not only taller than M, but he is also Scottish and this was a unique and memorable asset for a missionary in Utah. I had heard many stories about Jamie Cairns and even his wife Lindsay, who was in the picture well before the mission. So this was quite a treat for me to visit the family, hear some mission stories, see some photos and videos of both spiritual and embarrassing moments for my husband in his youth.
The Cairns family let us stay with them for a couple nights. It was E’s birthday when we arrived, but we celebrated the occasion the next day by “strawb’ry pickin’” in the English countryside. She loved it so much that we might make strawberry picking an annual birthday tradition.
How do you decide what to do on your last day when there are still hundreds of things to see? With only half a day before we had to catch our bus out of town, we decided a museum or two would fit the bill. We started out at Trafalgar Square and said we would do a blitz of the National Gallery in 15 minutes. I spent at least 2 or 3 minutes looking at the mosaic floors in the foyer, though, so obviously it was a little longer than 15 minutes that we spent there.
I don’t know what struck me so much about this painting. I guess I don’t see black and white paintings very often. Sketches, sure, but a painting in grayscale really stood out to me. But then I was scolded for taking pictures and I had to put away my camera.
Quick as we could, we headed to Greenwich, hoping to climb to the observatory to watch the ball drop at 13.00. We got busy eating our lunch from Greenwich Market and totally missed it. We also missed everything else we were hoping to do in Greenwich, including E’s birthday treat, but we totally made up for it the next day. It’s ok. She didn’t even know it was her birthday.
It wasn’t until after we arrived in Oxford that we learned we had scheduled our day trip on prospective student day at the University. So even though we were actually willing to pay to tour some of the colleges, we were denied entry. Bummer. We even tried sweet talking our way in as parents of a prospective student who might enter in about 17 years. Nobody bought our story.
But as you can see, we were still privileged to view dozens of beautiful buildings and doors from the outside. We visited a cathedral. We visited the Ashmoelan Museum. We actually did get into the Divinity School. We visited the Oxford Castle, which is something of a restaurant now. We went to the farmers market like the locals. We picnicked on the canal. We shopped the antique stores. We watched a cricket game in an incredibly picturesque field surrounded by steeples and very old trees. I mean, it was a great day. Every step was picture worthy. I’ll just let the photographs tell the rest of the story.